Talk Treaty to Me
One of the hottest issues in Canadian politics today are treaty rights. Talk Treaty to Me takes this serious topic and lays out an Indigenous framework of some hard-to-swallow truths. At the same time, it’s hysterically funny.
Billed as a comedy-drama, the one-hour production blends live in-person scenes with the magic of hand puppetry. The two main characters are Maxine (Indigenous) and Jessica (non-Indigenous) who meet as little girls playing Barbie. The audience follows their relationship through different stages of their lives as kids, rebellious teenagers and college roommates until they become practicing lawyers – one fighting for Indigenous rights, the other laying out government agendas.
Their friendship is tight, but that’s not to say the road isn’t rocky. In one scene, every child is invited to a birthday party except Maxine. The racism is obvious, and Jessica is placed at a crossroads deciding if she will support her friend and boycott the party or join her classmates and celebrate the birthday.
Later as college roommates, Maxine refuses to invite her Indigenous friends to meet Jessica. Ultimately this act puts a wedge in their relationship.
Interspersed between Maxine and Jessica’s scenes, Rob Gurney and Sheldon Stockdale masterfully manipulate two sly hand puppets – one representing the Indigenous population, the other a government agent.
The puppet’s fly through about 200 years of Canadian history mocking land rights, colonialism and the crown, forced assimilation, taxes, hunting, private property and the judiciary. While the actresses’ scenes genuinely express human emotions based on background and cultural practices, the hand puppets interpret their world through hilarity tricking, stealing and smacking each other.
Directed by St. Albert’s own Josh Languedoc, Talk Treaty to Me is heartfelt, funny and will leave you with a great deal of food for thought.
– Anna Borowiecki